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Old 09-16-2009, 02:26 PM   #1
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Default My letter to the neighbors

I put this packet (letter + printouts) on 25 doors today. Not a lot, but printing in high resolution at home gets pricey quick. Hopefully I'll get a few volunteers but, more importantly, raise awareness.

September 16, 2009
Dear Neighbor:
I live in the house at the corner of Englewood Ave. and Highland Pkwy. You may have seen me working on the National Fuel land adjacent to the sidewalk that communicates between Englewood and Grimsby Rd., where I have been trying to remove some invasive plant species.
I have noticed that we have a serious problem with a few invasive plant species in the neighborhood, especially in the alley that runs from Colvin, parallel to Highland behind the strip mall, ending at the National Fuel property. Invasive species are not just non-native and aggressive (I struggle to keep them out of my garden, as many of us probably do), but they are environmentally harmful.
The worst offenders in our neighborhood are common and glossy buckthorn, Norway maple, and exotic bush honeysuckles, especially Lonicera x bella. I have enclosed fact sheets from the National Park Service and U.S. Forestry Service on each of these species. Buckthorn can easily take over an area, as it has in our neighborhood, and its berries are tempting but give diarrhea to our native birds – they are toxic to humans. The alien honeysuckles likewise have berries that birds like to eat, but they are essentially “junk food” for birds. The latest research shows that these species literally poison other plants as an invasion strategy. Finally, Norway maples, a dark-purple-leaved cultivar of which is still unfortunately planted as a street tree in our town (Amherst has banned them), reproduce abundantly and leaf out early in the spring, killing native wildflowers that need access to sunlight in April and early May.
There are other problematic alien weeds in our neighborhood: bittersweet nightshade with its purple flowers and orange berries, the thorny, colonizing multiflora rose, and the aggressively spreading English ivy. If you have the time and inclination, I encourage you to look up information on these as well and try to control them on your own property.
This Saturday, September 19, at 10 AM, I’d like to get some volunteers together to control the buckthorn, honeysuckle, and Norway maple in the alley behind Highland. I’ve already started on the work, but a fair bit remains to be done. I’ll give a little orientation on how to identify these species, the proper use of herbicide, how to kill mature Norway maples, and how our neighborhood can better support interesting and beneficial wildlife. If you’d like to help, please join me. You’ll need to bring work gloves, a pair of handheld loppers, and a small, fine-pointed paintbrush suitable for painting herbicide on cut stems. We can meet on the National Fuel property at the east end of the alley. (Rain date: 10/3.) This spring, I hope to plant native seedlings in the area to prevent the return of the invasives.
Thank you for your time and consideration!
Sincerely,

Jason Sorens
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Old 09-16-2009, 02:38 PM   #2
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That is a great flyer to post in your neighborhood. I will be really curious to see how many folks respond positively and join you. You might want to point out to them as you are eradicating the invasive species what native plants make beneficial alternatives. They need to know that you are not only trying to eliminate invasive species, but planting natives to keep other invasives from getting a foothold.
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Old 09-16-2009, 02:55 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Porterbrook View Post
That is a great flyer to post in your neighborhood. I will be really curious to see how many folks respond positively and join you. You might want to point out to them as you are eradicating the invasive species what native plants make beneficial alternatives. They need to know that you are not only trying to eliminate invasive species, but planting natives to keep other invasives from getting a foothold.
Definitely. I'm working on a short presentation to make on Saturday to whoever comes, on the basics of native vs. invasive, management options, and wildlife benefits. Next spring I plan to distribute more widely a flyer asking for help to get natives to plant in the area that was cleared.
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Old 09-16-2009, 02:58 PM   #4
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Amelanchier, I hope that this works. If I were your neighbor I would sign up! I think that I might follow up the letter by knocking on a couple of doors, of neighbors known to be friendly to you and your cause, just to confirm that they will be able to pitch in. They might even be able to help you gain support among other neighbors. I will be hoping for a solid turn-out for you.
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:22 PM   #5
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And be sure to let them know about the Wildlife Gardener's website!!!

Good luck!
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:35 PM   #6
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Thanks guys! And that's a good suggestion, HR. There are a couple of neighbors who volunteered to help with cleanup of this area in the past. They got packets, but I might follow up with a knock if I can get up the courage.
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:40 PM   #7
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Be brave! Knock on the friendly doors first!
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:51 PM   #8
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wish I lived closer to help you! That letter would definitely get me interested and I would want to learn more! Nice job Jason! Hope you get a good turnout!
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Old 09-16-2009, 05:01 PM   #9
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What a good idea. I too, hope you have a good turn out, with a growing group of followers, with future work.
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:08 PM   #10
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BTW, the thing that pushed me over the edge to contacting the neighbors rather than trying to do it all myself was something I found while investigating the invaded alley. The alley backs up against houses on one side, and over a short fence I saw that one of them had a full-grown buckthorn tree growing in their back yard! They had mulched around it and everything!
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